Time for Ireland hopefuls to seal selection for World Cup: Farrell
An experimental Ireland side against Italy in Dublin tomorrow (2pm kick-off) offers a big chance to World Cup hopefuls, according to Andy Farrell.
The side's future head coach and current defence specialist has taken the reins this week with Joe Schmidt back home in New Zealand after a family bereavement.
"This is a big game for a lot of people this weekend, cohesion is the word we've been looking for all week, really," he said of a side that arguably boasts only one likely starter, Garry Ringrose, when the big games start out in Japan next month.
"The plan is there, the strategy is there but you've got to play the game as it happens, it won't be perfect but it's about can we adapt."
Ultan Dillane and Rory Scannell have already been cut from the wider training squad with 12 more set to be jettisoned between now and the first week of September.
With a few more set to return to their provinces before the squad set off for warm-weather camp in Portugal, Farrell rejected the idea that a large cull is a definite after this first warm-up.
"We're not going to shoot ourselves in the foot," he said. "We'll assess the performance and the health of the squad afterwards."
Three Ulster players will get the chance to make an early impression. Hooker Rob Herring will get a rare start with Rory Best not involved, packing down alongside new provincial team-mate Jack McGrath.
Jordi Murphy starts at eight while Iain Henderson could join them from the bench.